Over the last couple of decades the best electronic drum sets (which you may also hear referred to as 'e-kits' or 'electric drums') have edged ever closer to the experience of playing a fully acoustic set. From the physical hardware – including adjustable rack systems and responsive drum and cymbal pads usually made of rubber or mesh – to the drum trigger technology that means a sound plays when you strike a pad, electronic drum sets just keep getting better. And, as the technology has trickled from the top down, you've never been able to get more features and better value for your money.
Regardless of need, there’s an electronic kit to suit every type of player. Many drummers want to practice at home, but are restricted by how much noise they can make and when, making an acoustic kit a no-go. Then there are pro drummers who need reliability, performance and control over their sound, both live and in the studio. The best electronic drums are capable of delivering everything from headphones-based quiet practice alongside excellent tuition tools, right up to effortless recording functionality. In fact, most e-kits now offer a version of both.
The electronic drum world has seen a high number of new kits entering the market over the last couple of years. But with an ever-growing list of options, brands and price-points, it can be tough knowing where to start your search. If you’re here to learn more before you decide which is the best electronic drum set for you, head to the end of the guide where you'll find comprehensive buying advice written by our in-house experts, explaining what e-kits are capable of and what to look for before you make a purchase. If you'd rather get straight down to business and find the best electronic drum kit for you, then our top picks are up next.
You'll find a link out to a full review at the bottom of each kit entry if you want to know more. We've thoroughly tested every kit that's featured in this guide so you know that our assessment of each product is based on hands-on experience.
24/08/23: We replaced the Roland TD-1DMK with the Roland TD-02KV, a kit we recently reviewed. The DMK has been discontinued and the 02KV is an ideal replacement for those looking for a beginner-friendly kit from Roland.
Chris has been a drummer for 20+ years and has worked in the music gear industry for 19 years, including 7 of those as Editor of the UK's best-selling drum magazine, Rhythm. Over the years Chris has been hands-on with countless e-kits and covered many of the biggest e-kit launches from brands including Roland, Yamaha and Alesis.
Best electronic drum sets: Quick list
Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly which we think are the best electronic drum sets on the market right now? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.
Best budget e-kit
For the money, there's no better budget 8-piece kit with mesh heads on the market, whether you're looking for your first set, or an affordable practice e-kit for the home.
Best for beginners
This hugely compelling offering for newcomers features a Roland dual-ply mesh snare head, responsive bass drum and hi-hat controllers, and some of the best sounds that we’ve heard at this price point.
Best compact e-kit
With Roland's patented, tuneable, dual-ply heads across the snare and toms, plus a standalone kick drum pad, the TD-07KV is one of the most affordable, no-compromise setups in the V-Drums family.
Best for aesthetics
The EFnote 3X is a fantastic 10-piece created by ex-Roland and ATV employees. Aside from the striking looks, standout features include a brilliant hi-hat with optical sensors and a stylish module with limited but high quality sounds.
Best mesh alternative
Yamaha consistently makes some of the very best electronic drum sets on the market. The DTX8K-M is no different with a module that delivers 40 fantastic kit presets which are modelled on some of Yamaha's top-quality acoustic drum sets.
The best electronic drum sets in 2023
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Below you'll find full and detailed write-ups for each of the best electronic drum sets in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.
Best budget e-kit
The Alesis Nitro Mesh electronic drum kit includes an 8" dual-zone mesh snare, three 8” single-zone mesh toms, a 10” dual-zone crash (choke-able), two additional single-zoned cymbals (one for hi-hat and ride cymbal), hi-hat controller pedal and a complete four-post drum rack.
Also included is the Alesis DMPAD kick pad which features a robust pressed steel housing, anti-creep spikes and a single-zone surface. Partnering the kick is a chunky kick pedal together with essential assembly key, drumsticks and manuals.
It only took us a few strikes of the quality mesh pads to reveal the kit’s acoustic drum-esque properties, particularly with rim-shots and cross stick. The same goes for the crash, which is capable of impressive chokes. On top of that, we experienced almost zero creep from the chunky kick pad
The competitive price tag makes this an excellent value first drum kit for the budding player or a great cheap practice kit for more advanced drummers looking for a convenient home setup.
Read the full Alesis Nitro Mesh review
- The best Alesis Nitro Mesh kit deals online right now
Best for beginners
Roland's latest addition to the V-Drums family is a hugely compelling offering if you're just starting out. It features a Roland dual-ply mesh head on the snare pad, neat and responsive bass drum and hi-hat controller pedals, and studio-quality sounds that are some of the best we’ve heard at this price point.
The TD-02 module also has Bluetooth capability for jamming to your music collection - a feature we've enjoyed seeing roll out to kits at the cheaper end of the spectrum - although you will need an adapter which comes at an additional cost.
There are more affordable options out there, just as there are kits with more sounds and features, however the TD-02KV represents a cohesive package that you’ll want to sit down at months (and hopefully years) after you’ve bought it. Add to this some comprehensive coaching functions for developing players and it’s clear that Roland has considered who, how and where this kit is designed for.
Read the full Roland TD-02KV review
Best compact e-kit
With Roland's patented, tuneable, dual-ply heads across the snare and toms, plus a standalone kick drum pad, the TD-07KV is one of the most affordable, no-compromise setups in the V-Drums family.
Couple the feel of the mesh pads with the expertly-captured sounds and you have the ideal platform for getting started, on a kit that will last you many years to come.
On-board Bluetooth allows you to jam with your music library wire-free, and the built-in coaching modes will help keep your timing in-check. Finally, there's a USB MIDI/audio interface which will allow you to connect to your computer for recording.
Read the full Roland TD-07KV review
Best for aesthetics
With decades of experience working for Roland and ATV, EFnote’s product designers have hit the ground running since launching the brand in 2018. Both the technology and striking visuals across their range has made EFnote a brand to watch, and despite being one of their cheaper kits, the 3X is just fantastic.
Mesh pads sporting shallow shells in a textured black oak finish pair nicely with EFnote’s signature grey cymbals, including a stand-mounted hi-hat pad which is a standout feature of this kit. Optical sensors map the motion of the cymbal in 3D leading to realistic response and reaction.
The minimalist module - complete with touchscreen - is certainly a break from the mainstream and, despite some niggles with screen sensitivity and some pretty involved menu diving, there’s plenty to shout about too. We love how much sound editing capability there is at your fingertips while the on-board sounds, although quite limited, are fantastic and almost 100% usable out of the box.
Read the full EFnote 3X review
Best non-mesh kit
While Yamaha's music instrument manufacturing is only a small aspect of their wider business, it has consistently made some of the very best acoustic and electronic drum sets on the market. The DTX8 series is no different, and especially when it comes to this e-kit - the DTX8K-M - we see, in our opinion, one of the best Yamaha electronic drum sets to date.
The DTX8K-M, much like any electronic drum set, is nothing without its module. The DTX-PRO module featured on this e-kit delivers 40 fantastic kit presets which are modelled on some of Yamaha's top-quality acoustic drum sets, and with space for 200 user kits onboard too, you'll have endless hours of fun crafting your own killer sets for any style of music you can think of. The DTX-PRO module also enables you to quickly add or edit the ambience, compression or effects which are influencing your drum tones - giving you ultimate tweaking power over many aspects of your sound.
The DTX8K-M features a complement of mesh heads - made by industry giants Remo - to provide you with a realistic, comfortable and enjoyable playing experience. Mesh heads have not always been available on Yamaha e-kits, so this is a welcome option for anyone who wants that realistic, physical feedback while playing. This drum set is also available with Yamaha's TCS (Textured Cellular Silicone) heads. For those, you'll have to pay more - but if they do it for you, then we'd say it's worth it.
Read the full Yamaha DTX8K-M review
Best e-kit overall
The newest addition to the TD-50 range is the TD-50K2, which sits alongside the larger TD-50KV2. The latter boasts an additional tom pad and a KD-180, 18-inch bass drum, while the former comes with a weighty KD-140 pad. Both kits take advantage of the powerful new TD-50X module, which delivers digital ride, snare and now hi-hats. This K2 is the most affordable and compact entry-point to the TD-50X module. Beyond this, you’re stepping into far pricier KV2 or VAD territory (see next entry).
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the TD-50K2 is the digital ride, snare and hi-hats, which plug into the kit's module via USB. The ride not only feels more like a real cymbal thanks to its size and weight, but is also designed to respond more realistically due to multiple sensors on its surface. The snare uses the same digital technology to perform much more authentically than any previous model. We’ve fallen in love with the superb VH-14D digital hi-hats, too. Digital hats have never felt more realistic or responsive and the TD-50K2 is the most affordable kit to include them as standard.
The TD-50X module itself is the latest and best module in the V-Drums line-up. It plays host to over 900 sounds which utilise Roland's Prismatic Sound Modelling engine and way more editing parameters to help you fine-tune the sound to your liking. It’s also possible to import your own samples via SD card. These can be allocated as a primary sample, triggered by a chosen source, or blended with other samples using the new ‘sub-instrument’ menu.
Other noteworthy features include balanced left and right XLR master outputs, a routing engine which allows the kit mixer to control only the headphone monitor mix without altering the front-of-house mix and 10-channel USB audio that allows multi-track recording straight to a computer.
For this kind of money one would expect some pretty groundbreaking stuff. Thankfully, Roland hasn't failed to deliver with the endlessly customisable new TD-50X.
Read the full Roland TD-50K2 review
So those are our top picks, but there are may more great options to choose from that offer something a little different in terms of features and performance. We've selected some more of our favorites below.
Yamaha’s DTX402 series is aimed squarely at entry-level drummers. There are three kits in the 402 line-up, but for us the 402K is the best for tight budgets and offers plenty to help first-timers get started.
Out of the box the kit features a sturdy rack plus quiet, natural-feeling rubber drums and cymbals. In our experience rubber pads have always been far noisier and less forgiving than their mesh counterparts, but on this Yamaha the pads felt perfectly comfortable during extended playing periods.
The DTX402 module is packed with 287 expressive drum and percussion sounds, 128 keyboard sounds, 10 customisable kits and nine reverb types. In addition, aspiring players will find multi-genre playalongs, recording functionality and ten training tools to boost timing, speed and expression.
Impressively, the DTX402 is also compatible with Yamaha’s free DTX402 Touch app (iOS/Android), which enables deeper kit customisation, additional playing challenges and rewards as players improve.
While we still love this kit and you can't go wrong if you're in the market for a budget kit with great sounds, the 402 series is feeling (and looking) a little tired now, particularly since the launch of the new DTX6 series. We're hoping to see an overhaul of the range in the near future.
You can explore more Yamaha options in our guide to the best Yamaha electronic drum kits.
Read the full Yamaha DTX402K review
The Roland TD-07DMK is the most affordable electronic drum set in the newly-expanded TD-07 range. If you like the deep editing features and Bluetooth functionality of the TD-07 module, but don’t really need any of the other physical frills the TD-07KV, KX and KVX e-kits offer, then this could be the best electronic drum set for you.
Yes, it’s a more budget option, but don’t let that fool you. The TD-07DMK proves that Roland’s main concerns are playability and feel - with the double ply mesh heads providing a real-feel playing experience. Not only did we find the mesh heads near enough replicated real drum heads, but they’re also tensionable with a drum key, meaning we were able to personalise the feel and stick response to our liking.
The DMK is a compact, powerful e-drum kit perfect for beginner or intermediate players. With smaller CY-5 cymbal pads, and a bass drum pad (capable of taking a double bass drum pedal) attached to the right hand central leg of the frame, the TD-07DMK won’t get in the way when set up in your bedroom or studio space. It will fold down to fit into small spaces, too.
While keeping the footprint small, Roland hasn’t scrimped on the DMK’s capabilities - with brilliant learning tools such as the Coach mode onboard the module. The Coach tests and scores your timing and accuracy, with exercises ranging from easy to hard, and for the more old-school among us there’s a rock solid in-built metronome to keep your playing in check.
Read the full Roland TD-07DMK review
If you’ve had your eye on a kit from one of the big brands - Roland, Yamaha, Alesis - but the prices are little out of your league for the spec you want, NUX is a brand you should definitely consider. Taking all the best bits from the competition, including responsive Remo mesh heads, a spacious rack and fully-loaded and great-looking module, the NUX DM-8 is one of the best value intermediate e-drum packages out there right now.
In our tests we didn’t love the stock sounds, but with plenty of customisation on-board the module and the ease with which you can hook up to a virtual drum suite like Superior Drummer 3 and trigger higher quality sounds, we’re not going to ride them too hard.
The 9-piece DM-8 is even more appealing when you take into consideration the compelling hardware offering - in the box you get a 3 tom pads, a stand-mounted snare pad and kick drum tower, plus stand-mounted hi-hat, two crashes and a ride cymbal. Snare stand, hi-hat stand and bass drum pedal are all included in the box and everything mounts to a really sturdy, curved rack. All you need is something to sit on to get playing.
The icing on the cake is features such as Bluetooth connectivity, USB recording and physical faders for each part of the kit on the front of the module for easy mixing on the fly.
Read the full NUX DM-8 review
In recent years, the trend for acoustic shells that incorporate electronics has emerged, and Millenium’s MPS-1000 kit brings this concept in at an extremely affordable price point.
As well as the five mesh head-equipped shells, you get two crashes, an 18” ride cymbal and acoustic-mounted hi-hats, but additionally, Millenium includes all the stands you need too.
We found that the sounds and editing features don’t really stand up to other kits of this style, but then it also comes in at between half/a quarter of the price. The built-in sounds are just fine for practice, especially if you spend some time tweaking with the trigger settings and built-in EQ.
Likewise, you can incorporate your own samples, and there’s Bluetooth on the module too.
But where we think this kit will really shine is as a MIDI controller for third-party sounds such as Superior Drummer. It’s less work than doing an acoustic conversion, and you can get playing straight away.
Read the full Millenium MPS-1000 review
Yamaha's latest electronic kit certainly ticks the boxes if you're after a setup that delivers great sounds and plenty of editing options. Featuring Yamaha's TCS silicone pads in the snare and tom positions, one of the most comfortable bass drum towers we've tried and an acoustic-style hi-hat (stand included), there's a lot to be excited about.
The DTX Pro module allows for a lot of processing, and thanks to the Kit Modifier controls on the top panel, you can apply and manipulate your sounds in real time, plus, you can import your own samples and map them to the pads too. We do feel that the kit would benefit from a software editor to make this process easier, so until then you'll need to make a good investment of time to really get to grips with the internal menu system.
The economical design of the pads means that they do feel small - we’d like a larger snare and floor tom pad - but overall the DTX6K3-X has all the hallmarks of a quality e-drum set and is one of our top choices.
Read the full Yamaha DTX6K3-X review
The big message with Roland's mid-range TD-17 line, which features new pad designs, sounds derived from the flagship Roland TD-50 module, as well as Bluetooth alongside the ability to import your own samples, is that electronic drums shouldn’t feel like a compromise to those who are learning and improving on an electronic kit. Hence Roland’s ‘Become a better drummer, faster’ tagline.
High quality and highly configurable sounds aside, the main draw for us is the ability to import your own samples. You can throw whatever .wav sample you have onto an SD card and into the pool of 100 user slots. And completing this process is a walk in the park.
Then comes the Bluetooth. Many drum companies have dabbled with their own systems, but this solution makes the TD-17 one of the best electronic drum sets around. Pairing your device and starting to play along to tracks is fast, and rock solid. The Roland TD-17K's sound quality, features and playability set a new benchmark for those looking for V-Drums they aren’t going to outgrow in a hurry.
Read the full Roland TD-17KVX review
They might not have been producing e-kits for long, but Gewa is no stranger to the drum world as European distributor of Drum Workshop, Gretsch, Latin Percussion, Gibraltar and more. The G3 Studio 5 is the latest addition to Gewa’s expanding digital drums line-up. The G3 Studio is the most affordable of the bunch, but still doesn’t come cheap.
The 5-piece shell-pack features three dual-zone 10” toms pads, a 12” dual-zone snare and a 10” tower-style kick pad - all of which use Remo double-ply mesh heads. For cymbals the kit includes 14” hi-hats, a 14” crash and gigantic 18” ride. We love the fact that all cymbals are triple-zone which enables separate bell, bow and edge triggering and we noted in our tests that cymbal response is fantastic, particularly with the ability to trigger 360 degrees around each pad.
The G3 Studio module shares many of the top-end features of its pricier siblings, including Bluetooth audio and MIDI, USB audio, importing of user one-shot samples, recording to USB memory or playing audio tracks, multi-fx and more, so there’s plenty to play with out of the box.
There are 40 preset kits on-board the module, which are all of decent quality. We liked ‘American Vintage’, ‘Purple Heart’ and ‘Collectors’ for their obvious DW referencing and there are plenty of presets to cater for most styles of music.
Read the full Gewa G3 Studio 5 review
If you're looking for the best Yamaha electronic drum set, then we think you may have found it in the DTX10K-X. The entirety of the DTX10 range is stunningly impressive - both visually and sonically - offering the user a truly enjoyable playing experience. But why?
While most of the biggest e-kit manufacturers opt for mesh heads (something which Yamaha now also provides), Yamaha has spent huge amounts of time, money and brain-power creating its spectacular TCS (Textured Cellular Silicone) heads. Granted, some people like the feel of a mesh head, but in terms of ultra-realism, TCS is the king. While the pads on this e-kit aren't exactly life-sized, their relative sizes make playing the DTX10K-X feel particularly familiar. The array of dual- and tri-zone pads, some with 'positional sensing', also enables players to explore the usually 'acoustic-only' sounds beyond rim-shots and rim clicks.
No e-kit is whole without its module, and the DTX-PROX module which comes with the DTX10K-X delivers a raft of tonal personality in the way of great samples, exceptional tweakability and even a range of effects. These include compression and ambience, as well as an effect level dial - which can help to bring your drums to life in a live or studio scenario. We found, during testing, that the trigger settings were set to a fairly generic level out of the box and needed some initial tweaking to suit our playing style. Although a get-the-manual-out kind of job, it was fully worth it - not only to make our playing sound better, but to also understand the guts of the module in more depth.
Read the full Yamaha DTX10K-X review
Roland’s VAD (V-Drums Acoustic Design) electronic kits are works of art. We’d expect nothing less from a Roland flagship, which takes cues from companies such as Pearl, Alesis and ATV by housing electronic pads in full drum shells.
Featuring digital hi-hat, ride and snare pads, the 706 offers the kind of playability and natural feeling that Roland has made its name upon. As the most important elements of any drum kit, with these digital iterations you can expect to experience some impressively nuanced, detailed and great sounding drum tones - all powered by the formidable TD-50X module.
Amongst the myriad sound-editing options, building a ‘signature’ sound has never been more thorough - with tuning and muffling adjustments available at the push of a button, as well as drumhead types, cymbal diameter, cymbal thickness, shell sizes and shell depths all up for customisation. This massive library of drum sounds was developed and recorded alongside top drummers and recording engineers, meaning the tonal recall of this e drum kit is remarkable.
Of course with Roland, it’s not all about the sounds and playability. It’s got to be aesthetically pleasing - and we think the VAD706 definitely steps up to the plate. Drum shells adorned with Gloss Natural, Gloss Ebony, Pearl White or Gloss Cherry prove you’ll always turn heads, whether in the studio or on stage. Yeah, it’s pricey - but as a flagship model, we feel like that’s kind of the whole point. This isn’t an example of great value for money, but an example of what the future of electronic drums looks like.
Read the full Roland VAD706 review
Best electronic drum sets: Buying advice
Here you'll find out absolutely everything there is to know about electronic drum sets to help you choose the right one for you, whatever your budget or playing needs. All our advice comes from experts who have played, reviewed and sold kits over many years between them.
We've split our advice into useful sections. Just hit the links below to head straight to the info need.
- How to choose the right e-kit for you
- Do you need an e-kit?
- Are electronic drum sets quiet?
- How compact are electronic drum sets?
- Are e-kits easy to set up?
- How does an electronic drum set work?
- Drum modules explained
- Do you need headphones or a speaker?
- The difference between rubber and mesh pads
- Recording with an e-kit
- Playing live with an e-kit
- Where to buy an electronic drum kit
- Buying second hand
- Cleaning your e-kit
- How we test electronic drum sets
How to choose the right e-kit for you
When exploring the best electronic drum set for you, it depends entirely on what features you need from an e-kit and where you are in your drumming journey.
Beginner drummers should be looking to spend no more than about $/£700 on their first e drum set. Most electronic kits in this price range will have the important basic features covered - a user-friendly module loaded with usable sounds, learning tools, durable build, adjustable rack system - with the odd extra feature thrown in for good measure. Most e-kits at this level come with mesh heads (or a worthy equivalent in the case of Yamaha’s TCS silicone pads), meaning you’ll have a fairly realistic feeling e-kit to cut your teeth on. We would advise against anything with rubber pads only as they offer nothing like the real feel of acoustic drum heads and are much noisier in the rom than mesh. Some kits may offer rubber tom pads but a mesh snare, which would be a workable compromise.
We’d personally recommend getting something with a ‘proper’ bass drum pedal and pad as opposed to a standalone controller pedal, such as the Alesis Nitro Mesh or the Roland TD-1DMK. This will help you improve your bass drum foot technique and makes swapping from electronic to acoustic drums much easier.
In this price bracket, most kits should have everything you need to start playing in the box, including drumsticks, pedals and the drums themselves. As with any electronic kit, you’ll also need to buy a drum throne and a pair of headphones for drummers, as they’re considered more ‘personal preference’ items. Towards the top end of this price bracket you’ll potentially also need to factor in the cost of a bass drum pedal and some drumsticks.
Intermediate drummers will want to spend between $/£700-$/£1,500 on their electronic drum set. At this price point, you’ll start to get some really impressive features added in. We’re talking dual-zone pads which enable you to get multiple sounds/tones from a single pad, more sensitive and sophisticated triggering, better drum sounds and the ability to load your own sounds into the module - the list goes on. It’s also likely to be stronger and more durable, and will possibly come with an extra drum or cymbal pad (or both).
Some intermediate e kits will integrate traditional drum hardware into their setups too - most commonly a hi-hat stand, with an electronic pad mounted to it. This all adds to the feeling of realism, but will mean that your e-kit isn’t as compact as other self-contained options. In our opinion this is a worthwhile compromise. Having an e-kit that feels and sounds like an acoustic drum kit is particularly beneficial if you play both types of kit regularly, so you can switch between them relatively seamlessly.
Professional drummers can expect to be spending anywhere from $/£1,500 to $/£8,000+ on a top-level electronic drum set. Like the other price categories, it all comes down to the features you need and what you’re using the kit for. If you’re touring the world with an e-kit, then a Roland TD-50KV2 or VAD706 would make excellent choices, but if you’re playing small venues, teaching drums or doing a lot of recording work, then these kits would be overkill.
The features that you can expect from kits in this price bracket are damn impressive. High-tech upgrades like digital triggering on certain drums and cymbals can upgrade your playing experience with added dynamics and the sound you produce infinitely. The modules are another key point of progression when you get to spending the big bucks, with super high fidelity drum sounds and loads of effects and ambience customisation coming as standard.
At this price point, you can also start exploring the world of e-kits that come complete with proper wooden drum shells (like Roland’s VAD series). These not only look fantastic, but again authenticate your playing experience. They’re as close to real drums as you’ll get - perfect if that’s your thing.
Do you need an electronic drum set?
If you’re unsure as to whether you need an electronic kit, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
Are you in a position where you can make as much noise as you like?
If you live out in the sticks with nobody around you, or have a soundproofed space where making noise is not an issue, then we’d recommend you look at getting yourself an acoustic drum set over an electronic one. Playing the drums is an experience that can be hard to replicate at low volumes, so if you can, we’d recommend making some noise with an acoustic drum set.
If you’ve got close neighbours, or people around you who won’t appreciate the considerable noise of an acoustic drum set, then an electronic drum set is definitely the way to go. They’re more convenient and compact than an acoustic drum set, come preloaded with hundreds of cool sounds for you to enjoy, are easier to transport and always sound good. But fair warning: an electronic drum set is not completely silent.
Do you need a kit for home practice?
If your electronic drum set is just for practice, then we’d say go for it. Trusting you can’t just make as much noise as you want with an acoustic set, an e-kit is as close to the real thing as you’ll get while keeping your neighbours or family happy. If it means you can put in more hours behind the kit, then we’re all for it.
Do you want to record drums?
Electronic drum sets have become increasingly powerful and convenient tools for recording drum parts for musical projects and band demos. If this is your plan, then the plug and play nature of an e-kit will be massively appealing and will make life super easy, not to mention the fact you can dial in whatever drum sounds you have in your head for the project you're working on. We’d always advocate recording acoustic drums in a proper studio with microphones, but this isn’t realistic, convenient or affordable for a lot of people, so e-kits are the next best thing.
Will you be gigging with it?
If you’re going to be gigging with your drum set, again, we’d say that an acoustic drum set is best. A lot of our first gigs were in halls, garages, pubs or small venues - usually with small PA speakers, incapable of handling a full electronic kit going through them. For this reason, an acoustic drum set is preferable - unless you’re playing somewhere with reasonable sound equipment.
Another pro for the acoustic drum set is how it feels in the room. When playing (or watching) a live show, you want to feel the music as well as hear it - and an acoustic drum set has a much greater presence, meaning that your live shows will probably benefit from using an acoustic kit.
Gigging with an electronic drum set would be best for someone who wants to change drum sounds often, or someone that uses a lot of pre-recorded samples. There are also certain styles of music such as hip hop, drum ‘n’ bass and jungle, that benefit from electronic drum sounds and samples - and for these styles, an electronic drum set would be ideal.
All this being said, e-kits are becoming increasingly viable as live instruments, delivering both the look and sound usually reserved for an acoustic kit.
What is the best electronic drum set to buy in 2023?
What is the best electronic drum set to buy in 2023?
The best electronic drum set for you depends on a number of factors, including your playing level, your budget and what you'll be using the kit for. For example, if you only need an e-kit for quiet home practice you may not need one that enables you to import audio samples. Or if you're just starting out, you may want an electronic drum set that prioritises multiple learning tools over myriad sounds and backing tracks.
Whatever your needs, these three kits are a great place to start:
Best electronic drum set for value
The Alesis Nitro Mesh is the ideal starter kit. Everything comes in one box and is easy to set up. It's lightweight too, so packing it away or moving it between rooms is no problem. The all-mesh drum pads go some way to giving you a similar experience to playing an acoustic kit and the module features a satisfying range of sounds that should keep most drummers well occupied.
Best electronic drum set for established drummers
If you're beyond the beginner stage and you want a kit that offers better sounds, sturdier hardware and a generally more advanced playing experience then the Yamaha DTX6K3-X is a top choice. We love the stock sounds, and the fact you can enhance and manipulate with things like amboience, compression and effects straight from the front of the module. The TCS Silicone pads feel great too, while the rack feels completely unshakeable.
Best electronic drum set for pro drummers
Roland has long held the crown for making the best electronic drum sets when money is no object. The VAD706 sits right at the top of the tree in the Roland V-Drums Acoustic Design line-up, and for good reason. Not only do the full acoustic drum shells give the kit that traditional look that means it wouldn't look out of place on stage or in a top-end studio, but the TD-50X sound module is currently unbeatable when it comes to the technology on-board. Electronic drum set playing has never felt more natural or nuanced, and dialling in your sound has never been easier.
Are electronic drum sets quiet?
Are electronic drum sets quiet?
While electronic kits are drastically quieter than acoustic drums, they’re not completely silent - the sound of sticks or your bass drum beater hitting the pads will create audible noise and vibrations in the room and through floors/walls. As such, there are a few things to consider when setting up your electronic drum set, and we’ve also compiled a guide to ways to make your electronic drum set quieter for further reading.
Think about where in your house the kit is going, first of all. If you live in a terraced or semi-detached house, then keeping your kit away from adjoining walls is a must. Place your kit either in a central room, or against an internal wall - that way the sound is more likely to be contained within your home.
Avoid having your e-kit upstairs too, if possible. Us drummers tend to put a lot of force into a bass drum hit or hi-hat pedal stomp when we’re getting into a song, and that sound will quickly annoy people on the floor below you.
For those living in flats or apartments, it’s not the end of the world though - as there are products available to help isolate the sound, such as Roland's NE10 Noise Eaters and Thomann’s Drum Noise Elimination Podium. If you’re on a budget, having a rug under the kit will help some of that extra noise to dissipate.
How compact are electronic drum sets?
Electronic drum sets are smaller than acoustic kits and pack down more easily thanks to their foldable racks and adjustable pad positions. They do still have a reasonable footprint when set up properly as, although the drum pads on an e-kit are typically smaller than the drums and cymbals of an acoustic kit, the actual positioning is exactly the same. It’s important that your setups (if you play both electronic and acoustic drums) are as similar as they can be as this makes transitioning between the two easier.
Most of the time, the more you spend, the bigger your e-kit will be. The drum pads on more expensive e-kits are usually a more realistic size, which means they’ll be bigger than the pads on cheaper e-kits. A lot of higher-end kits come with extra drums or cymbals too, the rack will be chunkier and the module larger. Worth considering when looking at buying one of the best electronic drum sets and space is a potential issue.
Are electronic drum sets easy to set up?
Setting up an electronic drum set, like most flat-packed items, can present a bit of a challenge. The most important points for us, trusting that you’ve already made some space for your e-kit, are to use the instructions provided, and to take your time to make sure you’ve got all the parts before you start building. Putting together your new kit doesn’t have to be a dreaded task, if you do it properly.
Beginner e-kits are usually the hardest to build as rack systems often need to built tube by tube, whereas top-end kits usually ship the rack in sections that can be pieced together relatively easily.
We’ve put together an in-depth guide showing you how to set up an electronic drum set efficiently, quickly and properly - and hopefully without too much swearing. In a nutshell we’d recommend building your rack first, then positioning drum pads, pedals and cymbal pads (in that order), before mounting your module to the rack and connecting your pads to it via the supplied cables.
How does an electronic drum set work?
Simply put, every drum and cymbal on an electronic drum set contains sensors - usually referred to as ‘triggers’ - which detect vibrations and the velocity of those vibrations. Once a vibration is detected, an electrical signal is sent to the module. The module then triggers the appropriate drum or cymbal sound for that pad at the correct volume, and it plays back through your headphones or speaker. All in the blink of an eye. Smart, huh?
More expensive electronic kits feature advanced triggers with multiple zones in order to produce different sounds - differentiating between hits on the edge, bow and bell of the ride cymbal, for example. Some triggers also feature multiple pickups, enabling more dynamic and realistic triggering of sounds.
What you need to know about drum modules
Your drum module (sometimes referred to as the ‘brain' or 'sound module') is the nerve centre of your e-kit, housing a range of sounds that cover acoustic drum kits to electronic sounds and percussion. Switching between kits, creating custom kits and tweaking other parameters can all been done directly from the module. Depending on the level of your kit, your module may also have features such as EQ and effects and the ability to mix the kit exactly how you want it (making the bass drum louder, for example).
Almost all drum modules will offer some sort of metronome, plus other training tools and a selection of pre-recorded backing tracks.
Your e-kit module should also feature an auxiliary input for connecting a smartphone or music player, enabling you to jam with your favourite music. More recently some brands have been including wireless Bluetooth connectivity in their modules so you can connect to a device cable-free. Nothing feels better than locking in with the hits from your favourite artists so this is a super cool feature.
Headphones vs speakers
The debate over whether headphones are better than speakers for e-kit players is a difficult one. If you want convenience, then headphones win every time - but if you want a more ‘live’ experience, a speaker (also known as an electronic drum amp or monitor) is the way to go.
Ask yourself why you’ve got an e-kit. Is it for the convenience, or for the experience? Most of the time, electronic drum sets are purchased for quiet practice, so if that’s what you need, then headphones would be our recommendation. Grab a decent pair of studio headphones, and lose yourself in your drumming - without annoying the people you live with.
If you’re free to make some noise, then a speaker is a great choice - but nothing beats an acoustic kit. As long as you’ve got no volume limits, an acoustic drum set wins over a speaker for us, every time.
Rubber pads vs mesh pads
It’s widely considered that mesh heads are the way to go when it comes to electronic drums. Rubber pads have historically been used on cheaper e-kits as a way of increasing durability - which is great if you’re a hard hitter - but in doing so, playability, realism and comfort are sacrificed. That being said, if you’re not too fussed about playing an e-kit that feels like an acoustic one and your budget is tight, then rubber pads could be your new best friend.
Mesh heads are becoming much more readily available on budget e-kits though, including the Alesis Turbo Mesh which retails for around $299/£219 - proving that rubber pads aren’t that much cheaper anyway.
We’d stick with mesh, to be honest. They feel nicer to play than rubber, and they’re quieter too.
One other alternative is Yamaha’s TCS (Textured Cellular Silicone) heads. They combine the durability of rubber with the response of mesh. They’re not tensionable like mesh heads, but we’re big fans all the same.
What are the best electronic drum set brands?
What are the best electronic drum set brands?
The world of electronic drums has grown in a huge way over recent years, but a core group of three manufacturers has been consistently leading the charge for a long time. We refer to them as ‘The Big Three’ - Roland, Yamaha and Alesis.
Roland is one of the biggest and best when it comes to electronic instruments. As far back as 1972, Roland has been thinking of us drummers. The first official Roland-branded products were rhythm machines (namely the popular TR-33, 55 and 77 drum machines) - and since then they’ve gone on to be one of the industry leaders in the e-kit game. Their first foray into electronic drums was in 1985, with the DDR-30 digital drums module, while their V-Drums range debuted in 1997 with the TD-10 - and they’ve been innovating since, their biggest move being the introduction of mesh drum heads and, more recently, digital pads.
Yamaha is another titan of the music instrument market. They make electric guitars, saxophones, guitar amplifiers, acoustic guitars as well as their brilliant Yamaha electronic drum sets. They introduced their first electronic drum set - the PMC-1 - back in 1986, and now the DTX name prefixes their entire range. Their line-up covers beginner to pro e-kits, with their main feature being the use of TCS (Textured Cellular Silicone) heads over more traditional rubber or mesh. Yamaha’s reputation is huge, and they are a well-trusted brand that makes great products at decent prices.
Last but not least, we’ve got Alesis. They started off as music tech giants, and after releasing the SR-16 drum machine in 1990 - the all-time best selling drum machine, by the way - they ventured into electronic drum sets. They may have less history in the e-kit world but there are some truly impressive Alesis electronic drum sets on the market. They use a similar mesh head to Roland, delivering highly playable e-kits for not a lot of money. If you’re not so fussed on brand names, then Alesis is absolutely worth a look.
As of late, more and more companies are joining the fray with electronic kits of their own. For ultimate sound customisation and powerful processing, ATV and 2Box are worth your attention. While ATV makes e-kits designed to look and feel like real drums, 2Box makes e-kits that, hypothetically, are ever-expandable. Great for those who love to push the boundaries with their tech.
Simmons is another company that has made a comeback in recent years. Dave Simmons started out in the early ‘70s building electronic drums and triggers for friends, and quickly became a household name. Their brand has seen a recent resurgence, embracing the world of mesh heads and dual-zone pads.
Acoustic drum giants Pearl and GEWA have also thrown their e-kit making hats into the ring, with Pearl pushing their e/Merge range of e-kits in collaboration with Korg. There are currently two configurations available - the e/Traditional and e/Hybrid, the latter having a full-size 18” bass drum shell as opposed to the PUREtouch Kick Pad of the former.
A new brand on the block is EFNOTE. Launched in 2018 by a group of skilled engineers with experience working for brands including Roland, EFNOTE offers a range of setups, from standard short stack pad configurations, to full-size shells equipped with triggers. The touchscreen-equipped module looks like it offers plenty of customisation and the ability to manipulate sounds. We're yet to test one of these kits, but we're planning on getting hands-on with them soon.
Also coming from a value for money perspective is Donner, NUX and Millenium, the latter being a budget offshoot of German instrument retailer Thomann. We're yet to try a Donner e-kit, but we've been mightily impressed by the Millenium gear we've played so far - a lot of kit for far less money than you'd expect.
The very newest innovation comes from DW drums, of all places. DW is best-known as a top-end acoustic drum and hardware manufacturer. But recently, as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, and coming off the back of a new partnership with Roland, they announced the new DWe acoustic/electronic drum set. While you won't be able to get hands on until 2023, what we do know is that not only does this kit feature full size, traditional DW shells topped with mesh heads, but also that the trigger system is wireless and runs off standard AA batteries. With ex-Alesis Man Marcus Ryle at the helm, this could be a serious proposition and set the e-drums world on an entirely new path.
Can I record with an electronic drum set?
The short answer is yes - and it’s actually pretty easy.
There are a few ways you can go about it - but the easiest and most efficient way is a USB cable - which is often supplied with your kit - from your e-kit straight into your computer. One thing to note, however, is that you’ll need a DAW to record your e-kit this way.
Connect your kit to your computer, and fire up your DAW. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Garageband, Cubase, Logic Pro, Ableton, Pro Tools or any of the great free DAW options - they’re all capable of doing the same thing. As you play your kit, you’ll see MIDI information being transferred into your DAW. You can either use the in-built sounds from your electronic drum set module, or an external drum library such as GetGood Drums or Steven Slate Drums to get your drum tones - allowing you to tweak your recordings to your heart’s content.
You will be recording a MIDI signal, as opposed to an audio signal, making editing much easier - and you can even tweak your timing if some of your hits land slightly off grid, too.
Some e-kits will allow you to record straight into the module, too. This is great for recording quick ideas, but we wouldn’t record drum takes for songs or band demos this way. The audio quality will be poor due to the files having to be so heavily compressed, and you won’t be able to mix any of the individual drums later on - leaving you stuck with exactly what you recorded, and nothing else.
A line-out from your audio interface would yield largely the same results as this. It would work, but it wouldn’t be the best option.
We go into way more depth on this topic in our how to record electronic drums feature.
Can you play live gigs with an electronic drum set?
You sure can. It’s still not a massively common occurrence, but increasingly drummers are using full e-kit setups for their live shows. Drum sampling techniques have improved so much in recent years that the sounds coming out of high-end e-kits sound just like the real thing.
This, coupled with the increase in live drum triggering - when drum triggers are placed on acoustic drums and used to trigger pre-recorded drum sounds - means that actually, a lot of what you might hear at a gig is actually the same as you might hear from an e-kit.
Historically, electronic drum sets haven’t really looked the part for stage use. There’s something intimidating about turning up to a gig with a collection of plastic, rubber and mesh when everyone else is rocking acoustic gear. Things have changed, thankfully. Some modern electronic drum sets - for example the Roland VAD706, ATV aDrums Artist Standard and the new DWe kits - come complete with full wooden shells - meaning they look like acoustic kits but come packing electronic drum set smarts.
Some drummers opt for a hybrid setup - a combination of acoustic drums and electronic sample pads and triggers which enable you to layer sounds, enhance your acoustic drum sound and so much more. Roland leads the game when it comes to these more complimentary electronics, with the SPD-SX being a staple in the professional hybrid drummer’s arsenal. People may use them to trigger ‘one-shots’ - single sounds like hand-claps, synths or similar - and some people use them to trigger entire backing tracks. Using a hybrid setup can turn your basic acoustic kit into a powerful performance tool - and it’s so much fun.
When is the best time of year to buy an electronic drum set?
When is the best time to buy an electronic drum set?
We stand by every kit in this guide when it comes to value for money, features and build quality. If you're in the market right now, then you can do no wrong in picking one up. You may even find small discounts if you shop around (you can use our price widgets to find the best prices in your territory at our trusted retailers).
That said, in our experience there are optimal times of the year to buy. You can usually find small discounts throughout the year, and during key sales events like Labor Day, Memorial Day, Amazon Prime Day and President's Day, but between October and January is the recommended time to look. That's when retailers start gearing up to offer the very best prices coincide with the busy Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Christmas period. If you're able to wait until then, we would urge you to hold off until you can bag a hearty discount. The money you save could be spent on new sticks, an upgrade to your bass drum pedal, a quality pair of headphones or stock up on sticks.
Keep your eyes on MusicRadar for all the best Black Friday electronic drum set deals.
Where can I buy an electronic drum set?
You can buy an electronic drum set from any of the biggest specialist music stores, in-person or online. Places like Thomann, Andertons and Gear4Music, in the UK/Europe, and Guitar Center, Musician’s Friend and Sweetwater in the US all have huge ranges of e-kits from the big-name brands, as well as smaller ones - so you should be able to find an e-kit to suit your needs and budget without any hassle.
There are pros and cons to buying an electronic drum set online, but on the whole it’s an easy, convenient way to grab a great deal. The abundance of expert buyer’s guides and informative video reviews that you have at your disposal means that you can find out all you need to know about your new purchase without needing to see it in the flesh. With online purchasing currently being so popular, many major retailers have updated or extended their returns policies, allowing you some extra time to decide whether your new e-kit really is the one you want once you have it home.
If you want to see, feel and play exactly what you’re going to buy, then the in-store experience can’t be beaten. Not only can you get hands-on with your new e-kit before you buy it, but you’ll be able to ask any questions you’ve got face-to-face, rather than over the phone or email. This - for us - is the biggest benefit of buying in-store. It's worth double checking that your local specialist music store carries the brand that you’re after and that they have sufficient stock before you visit though - or you may be leaving empty-handed.
Should I buy a used electronic drum set?
Buying a used electronic drum set brings with it its very own set of pros and cons. Obviously the main upside of buying used is that there are some big savings to be had. In our experience buying and selling our music gear, used prices tend to be roughly two thirds of the new price - which can usually free up some extra cash for the drum accessories you might need.
Electronic drum sets are designed to be hit, so often their build quality is strong, sturdy and durable. This also means, however, that the used e-kit you’re looking at could have been used and abused by a previous owner.
For this reason, it’s important that you’re aware that most manufacturer warranties won’t cover re-sold items - meaning that even if your used kit is within the manufacturer warranty period, you won’t be eligible to use the warranty.
Some big music retailers such as Guitar Center offer a wide range of used products, usually taken in part exchange on new gear. These items are then checked over before they go back on sale, to make sure everything is in good working order. You’ll likely pay a bit more than the going rate if you’re buying second hand from a big store, but in our opinion, the added peace of mind is worth paying a little more for. It’ll still be cheaper than the new item, too.
Online marketplaces like Reverb, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Amazon can also provide you with some great second hand options with some major discounts. It’s definitely worth noting that although some of the savings can be huge, you’re reliant on the seller being completely truthful in their description of the product. If you do purchase something that isn’t as described, then Reverb, eBay and Amazon all have help centers that can assist you in sorting out the issue.
When buying a second hand e-kit we would always recommend checking out the gear in person before you part with your cash to ensure that all parts are in working order and that all connections between pads and the module are working. Sometimes images in an online ad don’t tell the full story.
Read more of our tips and tricks for buying a used electronic drum kit.
How do I clean my electronic drum set?
Like any musical instrument, if you play it enough your e-kit won't stay looking good as new for very long. Pads will gather dust and stick splinters, you'll start seeing stick marks on cymbals, and you may even end up with blood, sweat or coffee stains on your mesh heads if things get particularly vigorous.
But, all is not lost. It is possible to keep your e-drums clean without damaging them by using some specific products, tools and methods. We've created a full guide to cleaning your electronic drum set, with help from the experts at Roland.
Keep your drums in good shape and, not only will they be more appealing to play, but you will likely make more money if you sell them on in tip-top condition.
Best electronic drum sets: new releases on our radar
The electronic drum set world moves incredibly fast. In just the last couple of years we've seen Yamaha announce two new kits series, the DTX6 and DTX10, while Roland has just announced significant updates to its TD-17, TD-27 and VAD series electronic drum sets. Even more recently, Roland announced a pair of fantastically specced beginner/budget kits, the TD-02K and TD-02KV which boast the nifty new TD-02 module. Look out for a review soon.
We test everything we feature in this best electronic drums guide and we're always in touch with drum brands to ensure we can get hands-on with the latest kits as soon as we can. We haven't tested all of the new models mentioned above, but this guide will be updated as soon as we have.
Best electronic drum sets: how much should you spend on an electronic drum kit?
Like anything, the more you spend the more you get. And when it comes to electronic drum kits, we would always recommend you push your budget as high as you can possibly go. Ideally this will be an investment that last you for many years to come.
If you really can't stretch that far, the second hand market is well worth exploring as you can pick up older but still well-specced models for much less than their original retail price. Thankfully, e-kits are built to last, so as long as it's been looked after, a used kit can deliver many years of happy service to second or third owners.
When you're just starting out and shopping for a new kit, the beginner market offers a lot of choice for not much money. You can easily pick up a beginner e-kit for $/£2-300, but the sounds, components and playability are likely to be very basic and you may outgrow the kit quickly. If you can push your budget to $/£6-700 you will get yourself a decent kit from a known brand like Roland or Alesis, potentially with some cash to spare for accessories such as a throne, sticks or headphones. Sales events like Black Friday, Memorial Day, President's Day and Amazon Prime Day are also good times to save money and stretch your budget further.
Head into the $/£1,200-1,300 bracket and you'll open yourself up to intermediate kits with more sounds, better hardware, mesh pads all round and a module boasting features such as Bluetooth, the ability to import sounds and more. North of $/£1,500 and you'll be edging ever-closer to the top-end of intermediate territory.
So we're already in pricey territory, but if you want all the bells and whistles that brands like Yamaha, Roland and Alesis offer - from deep sound editing capabilities to cutting-edge sensors - you'll need to budget at least $/£3,000, while many of the ultra top-end kits, such as Roland's wooden-shelled VAD series, will comfortable set you back $/£7,500 or more. Now that's some serious cash.
Best electronic drum sets: How we test electronic drum sets
The MusicRadar electronic drum set review process is editorially independent and not influenced by any third parties. Our review samples are almost always sourced directly from the manufacturer or via a local distributor. Sometimes review samples are supplied by retailers.
Our expert e-kit testers use each featured kit for at least two weeks, evaluating the instrument in the following categories:
- Ease of use/setup
- Build quality and durability
- Other features
This enables us to produce accurate, well-balanced and real-life electronic drum set reviews to help you easily figure out whether the kit you’re interested in really is the best choice for you.
Our testing criteria in detail:
- Ease of use/setup: How easy is the kit to construct out of the box? Once built, how easily can the kit be adjusted to fit the setup needs of the average drummer? Is the module user-friendly?
- Sounds: What level of quality are the supplied sounds? We’re not necessarily looking at quantity here. A large number of sounds is often an attempt to cover up a lack of quality. We’re also looking at the variety of sounds on offer, and the level of editing functionality for those sounds.
- Build quality and durability: Here we assess the physical feel of the pads/cymbals and the response of the playing surfaces. Are the components - such as wing screws, cymbal arms, ball and socket joints, module mounts - of an adequate quality and designed to last?
- Connectivity: How easy is it to connect pads to the module? Is there an opportunity for expansion with more pads? Is there also USB/MIDI connectivity for recording?
- Features: What additional features come complete with the kit or module and how well do they work? For example, many e-kits now feature Bluetooth connectivity, but how reliable is it and how easy is the connection process? Is it possible to add your own sounds to the module? If so, how easy is this process?
Our testing team includes:
- Expert reviewers with years of hands-on experience testing and owning a wide range of electronic drum sets and with a deep understanding of e-kit technology as it has evolved.
- Industry professionals who have worked in the drum/music industry for decades, including Editor positions for leading drumming magazines and websites. Some of our reviewers are also drum teachers and ex-retail staff.
Read more about how we test music making gear and services at MusicRadar.
- Need more help? Read our complete A-Z of electronic drums
- 13 ways to make your e-kit sound even better
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